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Far From The Madding Crowd


Published August 7, 2007


Librivox recording of Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

Read by LibriVox Volunteers.

Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) is Thomas Hardy's fourth novel and offers in ample measure the details of English rural life that Hardy so relished. Hardy's growing taste for tragedy is also evident in the novel. It first appeared, anonymously, as a monthly magazine serial, where it gained a wide readership and critical acclaim. According to Virginia Woolf, "The subject was right; the method was right; the poet and the countryman, the sensual man, the sombre reflective man, the man of learning, all enlisted to produce a book which . . . must hold its place among the great English novels." The book is often regarded as an early piece of feminist literature, since it features an independent woman with the courage to defy convention by running a farm herself. Although Bathsheba's passionate nature leads her into serious errors of judgment, Hardy endows her with sufficient resilience, intelligence, and good luck to overcome her youthful folly. (summary abstracted from Wikipedia)

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Source Librivox recording of a public-domain text
Run time 14:40:15

Reviews

Reviewer: dahszil - - April 23, 2015
Subject: Another great novel by the inimitable Thomas Hardy
Thank you Simon Evers, the late Lucy Burgoyne (1950 - 2014),E. Plein,hefyd,Tracey Norman, Lee Ann Howlett, Sarah Jennings, and to all the readers in this excellent collaborative. And thanks to Librivox, Internet Archive and all the volunteers who make this free service so precious to so many of us. I wish E.Plein read more for librivox. also I love the mature, down to earth British voice(not the queen's english "sound") of Lucy Burgoyne. She was taken from us too soon and surely she is in a better place now. Thanks to Librivox and IA, her voice and temporal spirit lives on for us to enjoy now and in future.

The first ten chapters are wonderful, witty and humorous, peppered with a bit of uplifting profundity. fine fun. Hardy's "common folk" characters are inimitable. As usual with Hardy the novel becomes one of relationships and incidents initially seemingly trivial become complex and two become tragic. Hardy like Dostoevsky is also quite a psychologist.

SPOILER ALERT!!! the decent man is finally loved by the complex, intelligent, yet capricious at others and her expense, but sympathetic woman who rejects him at first. i.e. happy ending

To me it seems human civilization has one major cyclical constant: the march of time is either ankle to to over the head deep in sorrow, strife misery, suffering, destruction, war and untimely deaths that are the result.

A quote of Hardy's may give some of us hope:

"The Christian god – the external personality – has been replaced by the intelligence of the First Cause...the replacement of the old concept of God as all-powerful by a new concept of universal consciousness. The 'tribal god, man-shaped, fiery-faced and tyrannous' is replaced by the 'unconscious will of the Universe' which progressively grows aware of itself and 'ultimately, it is to be hoped, sympathetic'."

To most, Hardy's novels contain more than anything else cynicism(well the true ancient cynic Diogenes was filled with sympathy for others but not the ethics and social psychology of the time). Not at all he is just being realistic, "naturalism". It is sympathy that stands out in Hardy's work, i think. We seem to have lost that brotherly and sisterly love for one another. Eschew this nonsense about mental disorder, empathy, compassion(i.e."love" at the end of a ten foot pole)etc. active sympathy, that is love in the broadest sense, i think does heal all. whether the love between two people, with friends, with family(one can have a little slack here. family members can be the most difficult to love) or the love for our fellow man(gender neutral).

btw, on Sgt Troy's and Fanny's wedding day. So ok Fanny shows up an hour late. Why couldn't poor Fanny or Troy not grab the vicar and still be married at that one hour late moment? well i suppose it is that Sgt Troy while not a totally unfeeling psychopath, i think he was an undependable, irresponsible, egocentric rural lower middle class rake. However, Sgt Troy unlike Boldwood and Oak, was not possessive, he unlike many men was not obsessive of "owning" a woman's mind body and soul. Oak and Boldwood's flaw was possessiveness towards Bathsheba and naturally as a young independent woman she rejected them. Gentleman Farmer Boldwood was and became far more dangerous than Troy.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

If it ended with Farmer Boldwood winning Bathsheba Eberdean, she would probably "would have gone the way" of Sargeant Troy too.
Reviewer: ListeninginChicago - - July 24, 2009
Subject: English Lit gets out of the parlor and onto the farm
Summary from Librivox: Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) is Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel and offers in ample measure the details of English rural life that Hardy so relished. Hardy’s growing taste for tragedy is also evident in the novel. It first appeared, anonymously, as a monthly magazine serial, where it gained a wide readership and critical acclaim. According to Virginia Woolf, “The subject was right; the method was right; the poet and the countryman, the sensual man, the sombre reflective man, the man of learning, all enlisted to produce a book which . . . must hold its place among the great English novels.” The book is often regarded as an early piece of feminist literature, since it features an independent woman with the courage to defy convention by running a farm herself. Although Bathsheba’s passionate nature leads her into serious errors of judgment, Hardy endows her with sufficient resilience, intelligence, and good luck to overcome her youthful folly. (summary abstracted from Wikipedia)

My thoughts: It was fun to get out of the parlor and into the actual workings of an English farm. The collection of Librivox readers do a wonderful job - there were a few average readings, but most of the chapters were a joy to listen to.
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